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The Harbor

written by: George Gad Economou


There was once a very beautiful harbor lonesome standing amid the wild seas, always offering a safe haven to all stray ships. Many a-vessels had found comfort and refuge within the welcoming, warm confines of the harbor; both small, insignificant fishing boats and vast, luxurious yachts.
The harbor itself was very nice to look at; a sight for sore eyes, especially for weary from long travels vessels; a small port with stone walls that broke even the highest, most violent waves. Within, it was peaceful, filled with trees, crystal blue waters, and with a calming breeze constantly blowing cooling the air down to a comfortable level. At times, it seemed as if the harbor did not belong in this world but was, instead, a portal to another realm, a magical universe of safety and peace.
Yet, very few vessels ever returned to the harbor; thus, despite its extreme busyness, the harbor rarely met an old acquaintance. It was destined to be lonely, although never alone. The harbor, however, deep down was desperately longing to have one boat remain within its confines; eventually, it grew tired of all the newcomers that stayed for a night, or two, and then returned to the sea and wandered to other destinations. The harbor desired wholeheartedly for that one ship that would truly appreciate the safety of the harbor and would not just take advantage of the ephemeral security and pleasure it so generously provided.
And the one boat came! And oh how the harbor rejoiced! It became even more beautiful, radiant, the waters were clearer than ever, more flowers appeared, the trees grew greener, the air was fresher. There was nothing the harbor was unwilling to do in order to keep the small boat—it wasn't anything spectacular to look at, especially in comparison to the yachts and vast cruise ships that had found refuge in the harbor. The harbor was ecstatic for it had found what it was always looking for; a friend, a companion, someone to put an end to the loneliness and the melancholy.
However, the boat, even though it would occasionally return, was ultimately bound to another port; a smaller, much less significant port than the harbor and yet the boat adamantly refused to change its home; the boat, in short, was in love with its old port, even though it was obvious it wanted to remain within the harbor.
Nonetheless, the harbor remained busy; more vessels arrived, and they all subsequently left. Yet, the boat would always come back—and it was the only reason for the harbor to exist, to continue providing safety to the rest of the ships roaming the vast, dangerous seven seas.
When the special boat was inside the harbor, the harbor felt delighted, it was in Seventh Heaven; it didn't even need the meaningless company of the other vessels. Finally, the harbor had found a purpose for its existence! For so long it had provided temporary refuge to astray and runaway vessels, yet now it was offering a safe haven to a boat that wished to escape a turbulent world and a rotten port.
It was also sad, though, because the boat refused to remain for long; it would always go away because it couldn't abandon the port—the boat was afraid of abandoning its past, terrified of the future. It needed safety, and it doubted the harbor could offer it, because of the heavy traffic it enjoyed.
And this only worsened the harbor's melancholy, because it could sense the boat staying away for longer and longer intervals. At first, the boat would return almost daily—still, it would almost never stay overnight. Gradually, the visits turned less frequent. At some point, it became a once in a month occurrence and the harbor knew it was merely a courtesy visit—as well as the effort of the boat to ensure the harbor was still standing, that there still was a place for it to run to if the need for it ever arose.
The harbor, hence, could feel it was being used—it realized too, it was predestined to be used by runaway vessels. There was not a single boat in the entire world that would love the harbor for what it was, for what it could truly offer. Its safety, its beauty, its gifts were good for a short while, but no vessel would ever make the harbor its home-base; perhaps, because the harbor offered everything it had indiscriminately to all vessels that entered its confines. It began comprehending its real role in this world: to be something used by many—it was a harbor meant to be shared.
And so, when the special boat stopped visiting altogether when the visits turned from rare to non-existent, the harbor fell into deep depression and crippling despair. Its beauty slowly vanished, its cheerfulness evaporated. The waters turned into muddy green, the trees dried up and their leaves fell, the flowers died, mold appeared on the stone walls. Yet, the harbor didn't care.
It could feel its End approaching; the waves were now beginning to eat up the walls, the harbor wasn't the safe haven it used to be. Thus, most vessels stopped using it as a refuge; only extremely desperate ships would now accept to spend a night within its confines and the harbor didn't care. It fell silent, it had lost its charm; it grew old, miserable, pathetic.
Finally, it died out. It turned into ruins. The walls were swallowed by the ferocious sea; the wooden docks, once so marvelous to look at, rotted and were now lying at the bottom of the sea. There was nothing left of the harbor but its dying spirit; the same spirit that once had made the harbor such a lucrative destination for countless vessels; small and big, hideous and magnificent, poor and lavish, alike. And its spirit was slowly fading away, too; however, it refused to give up entirely, because of a faint hope of seeing the small, special boat for one last time—praying, simultaneously, that the other port was still protecting it.
One turbulent day, where the waves were crashing down every single vessel on the sea, the boat returned! The almost dead spirit rejoiced and wished wholeheartedly to welcome the boat back, despite it being the reason for its painful death. Yet, it couldn't, the harbor was too weak, it was nothing but ruins, an empty shell of its former bright self.
The boat saw the ruins; it realized it was the cause of the horrific sight. It came close, it whispered words of love and regret to the deaf stones. The spirit of the harbor died, with a faint smile—someone had, indeed, loved it, even if it occurred only after the demise was irreversible.
The boat, devastated, returned to the wild sea with nowhere to return to. The old port—it so much loved—had proven to be insufficient. As soon as more traffic arrived at it, because of the harbor's demise, the port began ignoring the boat and grew too absorbed by the magnificent new vessels that sought refuge in it.
As for the boat—the one vessel the harbor truly tried to keep within its confines—it sailed back into the wild sea and battled the raging waves; quickly, though, it gave up, realizing it had lost both the harbor and the port, finally understanding how much it had meant to the majestic harbor and how little to the pathetic port. The Waves won the war and swallowed the boat near to where the harbor used to stand—at least in death, the remnants of the boat and of the harbor were united for eternity even if their spirits had perished in misery.

George Gad Economou

George Gad Economou

George Gad Economou holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy of Science from Aarhus University and currently resides in Athens, Greece, freelancing his way to a new place. His stories have been published, predominantly, in the literary platform Jumbelbook and his novella, Letters to S., has been published in Storylandia Issue 30.
George Gad Economou

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